Wicona Glazing Systems Specified for New Polar Research Centre in Antarctica

A new Indian research station in the Antarctic is to feature high performance aluminium glazing systems from Wicona, which will have to withstand some of the most extreme conditions on earth.

Designed by Hamburg-based architects, bof Architekten, the research station Bharati will be sited on the Antarctic coast, having been transported from Germany via South Africa by ship as a series of prefabricated modules.

The station’s aluminium façade will be subjected to the severe climatic conditions of the South Pole, which include abnormally high thermal and mechanical loads caused by blizzards, huge quantities of snow, high wind speeds and temperatures of -40° and below.

A large proportion of the building’s façade will be glazed using Wicona’s specially adapted WICTEC 50 curtain walling system.  This will feature triple glazing, highly insulated panels, an incline of up to 15° at the two narrow ends, and will achieve a U value of 0.8 W/m2K.  The system also had to allow for the assembly and disassembly of the façade for testing purposes in Germany before the final installation in the Antarctic.

By incorporating a high level of glazing into the station’s design, the 25 staff working there will have a magnificent view of their polar location and it will counter their sense of confinement. 15 scientists and logistics staff will live and work in the station all year round.

Bharati is India’s third research base in Antarctica.  It will be a two-storey structure, raised on stilts and is designed to have a life span of 25 years, as well as to minimise any impact on the environment.  It will use combined heat and power from renewable sources for heating, low sulphur fossil fuel, efficient treatment of effluent, and all hazardous and sanitary waste will be transported back to the mainland for disposal.

The research station will weigh around 1,000 tonnes and comprises 134 prefabricated modules which have now been transported by ship from Antwerp to Cape Town. In South Africa, a further 50 modules that make up the construction camp were taken on board for the 5,200km journey by sea to the site in the Larsemann Hills on the northern edge of the Antarctic. The scheme is scheduled for completion later this year.

The team based at Bharati will carry out cutting edge multi-disciplinary research and observation studies, including the movement of platonic plates, microbes surviving in the atmosphere and meteorological sciences.

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Polar Research Station

Polar Research Station

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